Tesla says Jerome Guillen has been promoted to president of automotive

Key Points
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a slew of promotions Friday including a new head of human resources and automotive chief.
  • The announcement comes after reports earlier in the day that top executives were leaving the company.
Is Tesla going up in smoke?

Tesla announced Friday that Jerome Guillen has been promoted to president of its automotive division.

In an email to employees, CEO Elon Musk said Guillen would report directly to him and oversee all of Tesla's automotive operations, including the coordination of its supply chain.

Musk said Guillen had "played a critical role in ramping Model 3 production, leading what almost all thought was impossible: creation of an entire high-volume General Assembly line for Model 3 in a matter of weeks."

The Model 3 is the key product for Tesla's transformation into a mass electric-vehicle manufacturer. But the company has struggled with meeting the demand for those vehicles, with reports of production falling many months behind schedule.

At Tesla, Guillen is known as a taskmaster who can accurately forecast project completion dates. He is trusted by Musk, and credited with resolving some production issues that plagued the Model S line in Tesla's early days of making and delivering that vehicle, and for expanding Tesla's service organization internationally.

Guillen previously worked for McKinsey, Daimler and Tesla. He took a five month leave from the company but returned in early 2016 to create an electric semi-truck program at Tesla.

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Among other things, he led the design of the Semi prototype, and struck early partnerships and other business deals that have seen large corporations pre-ordering the all-electric class 8 truck.

Musk also announced a slew of other promotions, which follow reports earlier in the day of executive resignations, including Tesla's chief accounting officer, Dave Morton.

Kevin Kassekert will now become vice president of people and places. His responsibilities will include human resources and facility developments. Musk said Tesla's chief people officer, Gaby Toledano, had been on leave and has decided to "continue doing so for personal reasons."

Shares of Tesla ticked higher in after-hours trade Friday, after falling 6 percent in the normal trading session. The stock has shed 30 percent in the past month amid intense scrutiny over Musk's take-private tweet.

A month ago, Musk shot off a controversial tweet saying he was "considering taking Tesla private." Musk floated a take-private price of $420 — roughly a 20 percent upside from the stock's levels at the time — and claimed he had the "funding secured."

Company updates and news reports in the weeks that followed poked holes in Musk's proposal, though, and Tesla formally called off the take-private talks in late August.

Late Thursday, Musk spurred a new round of criticism after he smoked marijuana and sipped whiskey during his appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast.

Read the full email to employees below:

First, I'd like to thank you for your incredible efforts and contribution as we enter the final few weeks of this quarter. This is a very exciting time for Tesla, to say the least, and you are the reason for the tremendous progress we've made in a relatively short period of time. It is easy to forget that our company was almost unknown 10 years ago and didn't even exist until after the start of the 21st century!

We are about to have the most amazing quarter in our history, building and delivering more than twice as many cars as we did last quarter. For a while, there will be a lot of fuss and noise in the media. Just ignore them. Results are what matter and we are creating the most mind-blowing growth in the history of the automotive industry. Even the Ford Model T, which held the world record for the fastest growing car in history, didn't grow as fast in sales or production as the Model 3.

Moreover, we also have the most exciting new product lineup of any company in the world. There is the Model Y, the Tesla (pickup) Truck, the Semi and the new Roadster. Then there is the Solar Roof, which is spooling up in production, and continued advancements in Powerwall and Powerpack. And that's just what people know about …

To help achieve our goals, after discussing this in-depth with the Tesla board of directors and executive staff over the past several weeks, I am excited to announce a number of management changes:

Jerome Guillen has been promoted to President, Automotive, reporting directly to me. In his new role, Jerome will oversee all automotive operations and program management, as well as coordinate our extensive automotive supply chain. Jerome has made major contributions and acquired deep knowledge of Tesla's operations over the past eight years at our company, from being the first Model S Program Manager to managing all vehicle programs, then all vehicle engineering and worldwide sales & service. Recently, Jerome played a critical role in ramping Model 3 production, leading what almost all thought was impossible: creation of an entire high-volume General Assembly line for Model 3 in a matter of weeks. Before coming to Tesla, Jerome was responsible for creating and running the most successful semi truck program in history at Daimler's Freightliner division.

Kevin Kassekert has been promoted to VP of People and Places, with responsibility for Human Resources, Facilities, Construction, and Infrastructure Development. Kevin has been with Tesla for 6 years and was previously VP, Infrastructure Development. Kevin led the construction and development of our Gigafactory in Nevada, turning what was a pile of rocks in the Sierra Nevada mountains into a factory employing 12 thousand people with greater output than the entire rest of the world's battery factories combined, in roughly three years. That is insanely badass. Prior to joining Tesla, Kevin engineered and built multi-billion dollar production plants in the semiconductor industry. As many of you know, Tesla's Chief People Officer Gaby Toledano has been on leave for a few months to spend more time with her family and has decided to continue doing so for personal reasons. She's been amazing and I'm very grateful for everything she's done for Tesla.

Chris Lister joined Tesla last year and was key to solving our production problems at the Gigafactory and ramping Model 3 production. He is being promoted to VP, Gigafactory Operations. In this role, he leads our production and manufacturing engineering at Giga. Before Tesla, Chris ran several ultra high volume factories at PepsiCo.

Felicia Mayo, Sr. HR Director and head of our Diversity and Inclusion program, has been promoted to VP, reporting to both Kevin and me. Felicia has done great work promoting the importance of having one of the most diverse workforces in the world and ensuring fairness across hundreds of roles and Tesla operations in over 50 countries. She previously worked in senior HR roles at PwC and Oracle, and, most recently was Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition and Diversity for Juniper Networks.

Laurie Shelby, Tesla's VP, Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) will also report directly to me. Your safety and just generally making sure that you love coming to work is extremely important, which is why EHS will report directly to me. We are working hardcore on having the safest (and most fun) work environment in the automotive industry by far. Laurie came to Tesla last year after a 25+ year career at Alcoa, where she made tremendous progress in workplace safety. Since joining, she has already overseen a reduction in our employee injury rate, as well as major improvements in our EHS program.

Cindy Nicola, VP of Global Recruiting, will report to both Kevin and me. Cindy has overseen the company's global recruiting efforts since 2015, bringing on tens of thousands of highly talented people. Prior to Tesla, Cindy led worldwide Corporate Recruiting at Apple, and before that was VP, Global Talent Acquisition at Electronic Arts.

Finally, Dave Arnold has been promoted to Sr. Director, Global Communications, overseeing Tesla's communications team. Dave was previously Director of Corporate Communications at Virgin America.

Thanks again for your incredible work in making Tesla successful. What you are doing is vital to achieving an amazing and sustainable energy future for all of humanity and life on Earth.


— CNBC's and contributed to this report.

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